by Bill Koelzer
The Marblehead Coastal development marches on with the highly visible, 3,000-slot parking structure slated to complete late in the second quarter of 2015. The retail buildings should be completed during the middle of the third quarter, with exterior plaster work on the exterior of them already underway. And in addition, 300+ new homes will be constructed, with showings of model homes to begin in a few months.
Many in the city see Marblehead’s dual development as a boon for the growth of San Clemente, occurring in a way that benefits all residents. And of course some don’t.
We polled our City Council members to see what they have to say…
Chris Hamm, Mayor
As you drive by Marblehead, you can’t ignore the many changes happening. I get two questions consistently, “what is going on there?” and “why an outlet mall?” By now most residents know a three hundred home community, outlet mall, and an amazing park and trail system will be completed in the next couple of years.
The outlet mall was approved in the late nineties, so it’s not a matter of “why?” at this point but a matter of “when?” The first phase should be open for shopping and dining by the end of this year.
My priority this year as Mayor will be the North Beach area. Having three hundred homes added to the community at Marblehead will increase our funding and resources to improve the North Beach area. When homes start selling, the city will have over a million dollars to invest in North Beach. With the influx in traffic into this area, we'll need to ramp up our infrastructure to ease the flow and minimize the impact on NB residents.
The other priority for me will be the beach trail extension. The council is actively working to extend the trail south to the Califal State Park campground. With the recent approval of the trail extension along PCS to Camino Capistrano, residents will be able to travel from one end of town to the other without crossing a road and have access to the new park and trail system. The new trails and parks will be an asset for everyone in the community, a feature that will set us apart from other south county cities.
The outlet mall would not have been my choice, but it’s happening, so let’s enjoy the silver lining of the new trail system, and the increase in funding to improve the North Beach community.
Bob Baker, Mayor Pro Tem
I get lots of questions about our new “Outlet Mall” on the old “tomato fields”. Why didn't we do this or that? When I hear that, I try and get people to focus on the future. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. That land will not be tomato fields again for a very very long time.
The increased traffic has been planned for. The Vista Hermosa freeway off- ramp has been designed to handle the increased traffic projections. The new extension of W. Avenida Vista Hermosa will help too. The effects on Shorecliffs Middle School are being dealt with. The morning drop off happens before the mall is open and the afternoon pickup will take a little longer. We'll deal with it.
The most significant traffic issue in town for the next three years will happen on the freeway. The construction is short term pain for long term gain. Please be patient while driving. It will take longer to get to places if you use the freeway.
We finally have some state and federal $ coming to South Orange County. The Ortega ramp, Pico ramp, new HOV lanes and the La Pata extensions are all going to help traffic for many years to come. Your patience will be tested in the next three years. Relax and drive safely.
Lori Donchak, City Councilperson
In recent years, San Clementeans have been clear about the wish to be able to work where we live. The new shops bring jobs to town. I expect there will especially be jobs for some of our high school students, which is wonderful.
One of the things city leaders can do is work seriously to connect the new project with other local shopping opportunities, especially downtown San Clemente.
Having a trolley or some other type of public transit that moves between the two shopping destinations is on the horizon, making it easier than ever to get around.
And I imagine that the new array of stores will compliment - not compete with-existing offerings in town, giving us more choices without having to leave San Clemente.”
Kathy Ward, City Councilperson
First of all, the improvements on this bluff that has long been open space will be a big difference to San Clemente. Just the visual of seeing the property improved will be an adjustment.
There will be more visitors and residents in San Clemente. Each of these brings additional tax revenues to the city. Three hundred nine new homes will bring residents buying gas, food and services in San Clemente. If every resident of San Clemente bought all their goods, including gasoline, in our town, the city could provide more services and improvements each year.
The development of the outlet center has already contributed to interest from other retailers to come to our city. Sprouts, Sports Authority, Steinmart and TJ Max have committed to leases in the old K-Mart Plaza. This plaza is getting a much-needed facelift. These improvements will lift up and revitalize the Estrella area.
A big benefit from the homes at Marblehead is the addition of open space, parks and trails that will be utilized by all of San Clemente. These trails will ultimately add to the open space and recreational uses for North Beach - itself designated as a recreational /visitor area.
It is my dream that North Beach becomes a destination as a gathering place for our community by the ocean - an open recreational area within a historic district of the Miramar, the Ole Hanson Beach Club and the Casino.
Ultimately the development of Marblehead Coastal will change the look of the north end of our town, lift up North Beach, and bring new residents and visitors to our town. There will be more interest in San Clemente. That is a good thing. But we need to balance that and hold to the vision of San Clemente’s identity and goals and ensure that our residents’ quality of life is forefront in all development decisions.